It is really hard to beat a team in back-to-back games in the NBA. Unless, of course, it’s the Lakers or Grizzlies beating the Spurs. San Antonio followed up their spirited victory on Monday with a blowout loss on Tuesday.
It didn’t start out all that bad though. With Derrick White not playing in back-to-back games because of his toe I figured Lonnie Walker IV would reclaim his position in the starting lineup. Greg Popovich pulled a fast one though and gave rookie Devin Vassell his first start in White’s place. I think this is a move we can all get behind.
It seemed to pay off as it looked like the Spurs picked up where they left off on Monday with a strong start. Dejounte Murray hit his first 3 shots and Keldon Johnson was driving the ball to the basket aggressively. He had some trouble finishing, but I still liked the aggression. Unfortunately Jakob Poeltl picked up two first quarter fouls and had to go to the bench. He was replaced by Trey Lyles who had a surprisingly strong performance.
Trey logged 25 minutes tonight and was effective while he was out there. He scored 15 points on 5/8 shooting and hit a 3. He also hit all 4 of his free throws and pulled down 6 rebounds. Given tonight’s performance, if the Spurs do move on from LaMarcus Aldridge, I don’t think I’d mind a big man rotation of Poeltl, Lyles, and Eubanks. They each give you something a little different and can be mixed and matched depending on need for a given night. Plus Trey is only 25 even though It feels like he’s a lot older.
Going back to Keldon having trouble finishing, it wasn’t just him. Nobody on the Spurs, outside of Lyles, had a good shooting night. They only shot 37% from the field and only hit 8/24 from 3 for 33%. Against a Steph Curry led team that won’t get the job done.
Speaking of Steph Curry, he is really good. He is so good at shooting that it’s easy to forget about the rest of his game. His ball handling and passing are second to none and he was able to get to the rim at will tonight versus San Antonio’ defense.
Even though they were shooting the ball poorly and having trouble containing Steph the Spurs were in the game in the first half. They actually managed to grab a lead late in the second quarter and finished the half tied at 50-50.
The 3rd quarter though was a different story. This had to rank as one of the worst quarters the Spurs have had all season. They entered it tied at 50, but left it down 16, as the Warriors started running away with the game. As bad as it was it isn’t something I really want to dwell on. Sure there were problems, but I really view it as an outlier quarter. One bad 12 minutes of basketball. The Warriors aren’t 16 points better than the Spurs in a whole game let alone one quarter. Just chalk it up as a learning experience and move on.
One thing you can always count on is that the San Antonio Spurs will keep on keeping on, no matter how much they’re down. That attitude almost got them back into this game in the 4th quarter. At one point they got the lead down to 12 after yet another Keldon Johnson car crash of a drive. Unfortunately on this night Golden State was too much and the Warriors quickly pulled away again and never looked back.
- Real quick before I forget to ask. What is a “rodeo road trip”? I’m not from San Antonio or Texas so I didn’t know what Bill Land and Sean Elliot were talking about. At first I thought they might be talking about when a team has to go on a road trip through Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, but that has a different name, right? Is there a big rodeo in San Antonio around this time? Sorry for my ignorance. I’m trying to learn.
- Were both teams playing with the same ball tonight? It seemed that the Spurs had an unusually hard time catching passes while the Warriors had no trouble at all. But even so, as I’m looking at the stats, San Antonio only had 14 turnovers. A little higher than usual, but still acceptable.
- I’d like to talk about a standout players stats here, but in a game where you only score 91 points nobody is really going to stand out. Trey Lyles was the biggest surprise, but I already highlighted his night. Rudy Gay led the team in scoring with 17 and also tied for the team lead with 3 other players in rebounds with 6. The team’s leading assist men were Keldon and DeMar with 6 each. Keldon’s line looks pretty good at first with 13 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists, but his 5/16 shooting makes it less impressive. I’m sure the next game will be better.
Friday, February 12th @ Atlanta @6:30 pm.
The Spurs next three games are @ Atlanta, Charlotte, and Detroit. Winnable, but not cakewalks. If things go right this could be a very successful road trip that boosts them even further up the standings in the Western Conference.